Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 5:38 pm on 10th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment and Climate Change) 5:38 pm, 10th July 2019

It is always a pleasure to speak last, because one can follow all the interesting comments and contributions.

I absolutely agreed with Rachel Reeves when she said so passionately that there are wonderful opportunities. We should not be all gloomy, because there absolutely are opportunities. We should look forward positively, rather than thinking only that we do not really know how to do it. We do know how to do it.

We should of course work together across party lines, but I am a bit baffled that some behave as if this was a new subject and we have suddenly seen the light and understood what is going on. This is not a new subject. I have grown up with it and I have been thinking environmentally for as long as I can remember. The fact that we have been destroying our planet is not news. Certainly since we heard from Al Gore in 2006, we have known the inconvenient truth that we are warming up this planet in a very, very dangerous way, and that we are heading for extinction unless we do something. So, what have we been doing in the past decade? It is really disappointing to see, particularly over the past four years with this Government, that we have actually gone backwards. I feel very angry about that, and it is normal for the young generation to feel angry about it, too. I am not surprised. We really need to look at ourselves and ask, what have we done when we knew that this was coming our way?

I really hope that this is a new beginning, that we are all going to work together, and that we understand that some difficult decisions need to be made. We will probably have party political ding-dongs about that, because there are so many different ways of achieving what we need to achieve. We all know that we need to get to net zero by 2050, but how we get there is obviously the big question.

I do welcome the fact that we want to work cross-party on this matter. I am looking forward to that and, as I said earlier, one starting point for me would be to stop fracking. There are some simple things that we can do, but obviously there are political differences to overcome. Mention was made, for example, of nationalising the grid in Scotland. Is that a proposal? There are different ways of addressing this issue. We need to have a rational discussion about it and be honest about the difficulties, but we also need to understand where our political differences lie and, hopefully, overcome them. We need to do something; we owe it to the younger generation.

The climate crisis is the most pressing challenge of our time. We are already seeing its disastrous effects across the globe. The UK has a moral responsibility to take the lead in tackling the crisis. First, as a pioneer of the industrial revolution, we have been among the greatest producers of historical emissions, so I do not take the point that we are responsible for only 1% of global emissions. We have a much greater responsibility than for just 1% of current global emissions. We need to take our share of responsibility for the emissions that we have produced over many decades, and even over centuries. Secondly, we are a rich country. We have the means to decarbonise more quickly than poorer countries.